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Massena Arena holds first ever ‘Outdoor Classic’ for Minor Hockey Mites


MASSENA - Scores of fans and parents pushed their noses up against the fence, bracing the cold, eager to get as close as they could to the action, as the Massena Minor Hockey Mites welcomed youngsters from Norwood-Norfolk to the Massena Arena annex for the premiere of the “Outdoor Winter Classic” Tuesday night.

From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., the outdoor rink was divided into three separate games, one for the Red team, one for the White team, and one for the Blue team.

Children between the ages of five and eight came from Norwood-Norfolk yesterday to take the ice against their foes. The three teams are divided by skill level with Red being the highest, then White, and finally Blue.

“Chris Aldous and I have been talking for a while, and he’s the one who set it all up with Rich Boprey. It basically just took a couple of conversations and we had a good day for it, a perfect day for it,” Norwood-Norfolk coach Jerry Lauzon said. “The kids are having a great time. It’s a perfect experience for them. I think they were excited about being outside, under the lights and it being cold like this. They’re used to the cold from our rink, but this is different for them.”

The Massena Minor Mites consist of seven and eight year olds.

Massena Joint Recreation Superintendent Richard Boprey said that everything went as planned Tuesday night, from the weather to the turnout of support and the player’s enthusiasm.

“This is the first time this has happened. That’s why we’re calling it the ‘Outdoor Classic.’ The kids have been all excited about playing and the coaches have been looking forward to it. That’s why there’s a good turnout. The parents are all here, there’s some hot chocolate and everybody’s happy, and the weather is cooperating,” Mr. Boprey said.

“We have four ice rinks in town outdoors and a lot of these kids play shinny hockey outside, but they mainly play all in the indoor arenas. So this is kind of a nice opportunity for them to play on an outdoor ice rink, old time hockey. If it can be arranged (again), and we can set it up, and they want to play, we will absolutely try to have this again.”

Mr. Aldous, a Massena Mites coach, was also thrilled with the way the night turned out and is optimistic that another “Outdoor Classic” may be happening down the road.

“Maybe this is something we’ll do annually. It’s our first time doing i,t and we’ve got such great outdoor rinks here in the village. I thought it’d be great because nowadays we have a lot of indoor rinks so they don’t really get the opportunity to play outside. So I thought it’d be fun to organize it and especially with the parents because this is what they grew up on,” Mr. Aldous said.

“We’ve got a lot of great youth hockey in this area and you’ve got to keep it fun for the kids. Doing stuff like this hopefully will energize the program and keep getting more kids involved. Another thing is they’ve never got to play under the lights at night like this. It’s also very family friendly.”

Mr. Aldous also passed much of the credit onto Mr. Boprey and the recreation staff, noting that the Outdoor Classic would not be possible without their dedication.

“This is impossible without their help, with the rec department and setting this up. We want to make it safe too for the kids,” Mr. Aldous. “To make sure the ice conditions are good, we checked the weather out ahead of time and also to have Jerry Lauzon bring their whole group of 30 kids from Norwood-Norfolk, to make the idea possible, it was both Jerry and I that came up with the idea. With the way the weather was, we were kind of hitting those thaws, we weren’t sure if it was going to be possible, but to see the idea actually in action is fun to see. There’s nothing better than the smiles on the kid’s faces and those rosy cheeks out here in the cold weather.”

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